Car in background with hand dangling car keys and white text on buying used cars

Tips on buying a used car safely

Buying a used car can be a big expense and whichever make and model you decide to fall in love with, it must be safe and in roadworthy condition.

Here are Eurofit's tips on buying a used car safely; 

Know where to buy and your rights as a consumer

If you’re looking to buy car from a dealership think about your budget as used cars can still be quite expensive. Car dealers give you the option to pay by finance so you can pay in monthly installments. A used car from a dealership must be fit for purpose, as described and of satisfactory quality as you’re protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This relates to the age, price and condition of the vehicle.

Buying a used car from a private seller is relatively cheaper than buying a used car from a dealership - meaning you can pay the full amount in cash. Even though the Consumer Protection Act does not comply, the car must correspond with the advert or what the seller has expressed. You’re protected by the Misrepresentation Act if the vehicle does match the advert.

Seeing the car and all it’s valid paperwork

Never purchase a car without going to view it. We recommend you inspect the vehicle inside and out to check it against what is being advertised. For example, if the car on the advert states no wear or tear and you identify a rip to the seating, this is false advertising. Ask to see all relevant documents as stated below;

1. A V5C is a logbook specifying details of the car and the person it is registered to.

What to check - the car should match the description on the certificate and the VIN (vehicle identification number) should be exactly the same as the one on your vehicle.

Common places to find the VIN;

  • Front of the engine block under the bonnet

  • Front end of frame

  • Drivers side interior and drivers side door

Ensure the seller is the registered keeper and their name and address is the same as what is stated on the certificate. If their details don’t correspond the seller can’t legally sell their car, meaning you’ve had a lucky escape.

How much is the car really worth?

Depending on the condition of the car you may be able to barter the seller down. Get a free car valuation online.

2. A MOT pass certificate means that the vehicle is roadworthy to drive.

Vehicles over the age of three must have a valid MOT pass certificate. Ask the seller to show you a copy of this document to check if the car matches the make and model and any details documented. You can also check if there are any advisory notes on the certificate. Advisory notes are car related problems that need addressing at an early stage rather than later. Ask the seller to get the car re-tested if the MOT is due to expire. If you suspect any details that could be wrong check the car’s MOT status online.

3. Service history is a document detailing any car maintenance undertaken.

Check to see what work has been done to the car as after all you want to buy a car that is in roadworthy condition. It would be a good idea to compare the MOT advisory notes with the vehicles service history to identify if any problems have been resolved. All details should match the make and model of the vehicle. By reading through this document you may be able to identify if the car has been stolen.

Checking and test driving the car

Take your chosen car for a test drive before you decide to buy. Ask the seller to talk you through the components. E.g. How to start the ignition? How to turn the headlights on? How to adjust the seats? Does the vehicle have in car-entertainment?

Check if all the lights are working this includes;

1. Hazard lights

2. Brake lights

3. Fog lights

4. Sidelights

5. Dipped headlights

6. Full beam headlights

Keep the advert and all the important documents in mind when you check the exterior and interior of the car to assess the condition.

Is the car right for you? and Do you feel comfortable in the car? When you know all the relevant details, make sure you’re comfortable by adjusting the seats and mirrors. When test driving a car, it's improtant to check for any noises such as rattling or squeaking as it could possibly mean there are problems with the steering and suspension.

Feeling a bit more car savvy! You may even want to buy car to fix, however it is still important to ensure you check all the relevant documents. The final decision is up to you whether you want to make a purchase or continue shopping.

For that extra piece of mind get an expert opinion on the car you’re looking to purchase, with a free health check at your local Eurofit Autocentres.  

Did you know?

Eurofit Autocentres are celebrating 15 years in trade, so if you would like to book a service with us we’re offering 15% off Everything*. Offer excludes; Tyres, Batteries, Special Order Parts, Main Dealer Parts, Trade Sale, Vehicle Part Sales & (Free services). For more information head to our Terms and Conditions page.

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